Genesis 6: 6-7,11-13, 17-21 6 The LORD was sorry that he had made humans on the earth, and he was heartbroken. 7 So he said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth these humans that I created. I will wipe out not only humans, but also domestic animals, crawling animals, and birds. I’m sorry that I made them.
11 The world was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. 12 God saw the world and how corrupt it was because all people on earth lived evil lives. 13 God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to all people because the earth is full of their violence. Now I’m going to destroy them along with the earth.
17 I’m about to send a flood on the earth to destroy all people under the sky–every living, breathing human. Everything on earth will die. 18 “But I will make my promise to you. You, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives will go into the ship. 19 Bring two of every living creature into the ship in order to keep them alive with you. They must be male and female. 20 Two of every type of bird, every type of domestic animal, and every type of creature that crawls on the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 Take every kind of food that can be eaten and store it. It will be food for you and the animals.”
Verse 6 has some interesting implications for Open Theism which I lean towards, but not exactly related to food so I won’t go there. Some other preliminaries before we look at this passage. I have already hinted at this, but let me make it clear. I do not take the first eleven chapters of Genesis literally. This just means I don’t feel the need to prove that they are historically accurate. So, I don’t think it is important to figure out the logistics of the ark to prove that it was feasible to house and feed every species on earth and Noah’s family for forty days and nights. I am way more interested in what the first eleven chapters of Genesis tell us about God, creation an ourselves.
That said, this passage is kind of a mystery to me. God repents of creating humans and decides to destroy them and start over, shake the Etch-a-Sketch and take a mulligan. Hey, I watch the news and can certainly understand why God would be sorry that he made humans and let them run amok all over the earth, wreaking havoc on each other and creation. What I don’t understand is why he includes “domestic animals, crawling animals, and birds”, and says he is sorry he made them as well.
One possibility is simply the chosen method of destruction. This is a flood story after all. So, all the animals and birds are going to die because the earth being covered by water would not be conducive to those forms of life. That still doesn’t explain why the words attributed to God include the promise to destroy all the creatures as well. Were the species like Noah, each couple selected because they found favor in God’s sight? It doesn’t seem so.
So, what do we make of this? The main thrust of the story seems to be the corrupt nature of humanity that is “full of violence” more than the destruction of the earth. God’s plans for creation and humanity are not working out. Humanity is thwarting God’s plans. It is humanity that causes the destruction of the earth. Yet even at the point where God most completely gives up on humanity, God does not totally abandon them. There is hope in the remnant that boards the ark. Even when God repents of creating humanity, God makes a way out. This tells us something about who God is. Perhaps it can also give us hope about things like the food crisis and environmental degradation and potential catastrophes. We should not wait until the earth is dead or dying, but we can also rest assured that God does make a way for us to heal ourselves and the world.